July 9th, 2012

eyes black and white

The Criminal Stupidity of Intelligent People

What always fascinates me when I meet a group of very intelligent people is the very elaborate bullshit that they believe in. The naive theory of intelligence I first posited when I was a kid was that intelligence is a tool to avoid false beliefs and find the truth. Surrounded by mediocre minds who held obviously absurd beliefs not only without the ability to coherently argue why they held these beliefs, but without the ability of even understanding basic arguments about them, I believed as a child that the vast amount of superstition and false beliefs in the world was due to people both being stupid and following the authority of insufficiently intelligent teachers and leaders. More intelligent people and people following more intelligent authorities would thus automatically hold better beliefs and avoid disproven superstitions. However, as a grown up, I got the opportunity to actually meet and mingle with a whole lot of intelligent people, including many whom I readily admit are vastly more intelligent than I am. And then I had to find that my naive theory of intelligence didn't hold water: intelligent people were just as prone as less intelligent people to believing in obviously absurd superstitions. Only their superstitions would be much more complex, elaborate, rich, and far reaching than an inferior mind's superstitions.

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